Tuesday, April 14, 2009

WSJ on the Public Plan

The April 12, 2009 Wall Street Journal has a good analysis of the implications of the proposed public plan:
The End of Private Health Insurance
When government 'competes,' guess who always wins?

Above every other health-care goal, Democrats this year want to institute a "public option" -- an insurance program financed by taxpayers, managed by government and open to everyone, much like Medicare. This new middle-class entitlement is the most important debate in Congress this year, because it really is the last stand for anything resembling private health insurance.

This public option will supposedly "compete" with private alternatives. As President Obama likes to put it, those who are happy with the insurance they have now can keep it -- and if they happen to prefer the government offering, well, gee whiz, that's the free market at work...
The WSJ identifies one extremely crucial point.

We must not let the advocates of the public plan portray this as any kind of "free market" measure. Instead, it must be explicitly identified for what it is -- government control over a major sector of economy. One can debate whether this sort of statism is more properly called fascism or socialism, but it's definitely not the free market!

The article continues:
...Under the aegis of a level playing field, all private plans will be forced to offer benefit packages similar to those in the public option. They will also be required to accept all comers, regardless of pre-existing conditions, and also be forced to offer similar rates to all enrollees, ending the ability to manage risk through underwriting. Any private plan will essentially become a public utility where government decides what products it must offer and how much it can charge.

Democrats couldn't be clearer on this point. House baron Pete Stark -- who thought HillaryCare was too moderate and has long favored Medicare for all -- said at a recent hearing that currently "We have no mechanism to directly push the private sector to do delivery system reform and address rising costs." But the public option, he added, would force private insurers to "modernize," which seems to be his term for industrial policy.
Read the rest here.

The coming government takeover of health care will make their firing of an automobile CEO seem like small change in comparison.

For additional thoughts, I highly recommend this summary by InsureBlog.